Thursday, August 15, 2019

A combat example for Kung Fu Goons

Referee: Cheng, you open the door to the restaurant, and a dozen or so mooks come running at you. You see blades flashing, and one of them has a submachinegun. What do you do?
Cheng: Okay… I have Kung Fu 1, so I add +1 to my 2d6 roll, right?
Ref: Yes.
Cheng: And for every cool detail I describe, I add another +1?
Ref: Yep! What do you do? They're closing in fast.
Cheng: I wait till the first two are close to me, then I throw a low kick that sweeps them off their feet (1), the three mooks behind them are crashing right into them and tumble to the floor, as well (2). I regain my footing and high-kick the next, sending him into the glass cabinet where the porcellaine dishes are stored (3).
That's three details, correct?
Ref: Yep, it's a +3.
Cheng (rolls 2d6 and adds 3 for the details, plus 1 for his Kung Fu stat): 10!
Ref (compares Cheng's 10 to the mooks' 8; now the mooks are down to Difficulty Score 6): Great! What next?
Cheng: I cock my fist for a mighty blow (1), but before I can punch, two mooks swing at my face with full force (2). Their blows connect with a sickening crunch, and I drop to the ground (3).
(rolls 2d6+4): 11!
Ref (compares the mooks' 6 to the Cheng's 11; a whopping 5 points damage, which means they're down to 1 – the next roll will definitely take them out, leaving their fate in Cheng's hands): Wow, solid roll, Cheng! Mind if I join you to describe a few things?
Cheng: Not at all! So, I'm on the floor, still dizzy, and try to pick myself up…
Ref: …and in the corner of your eye, you see the submachinegun guy, and before you can react, he shoots! You can see the line of destruction the bullets are cutting into the carpet. TATATATAAT!
Cheng: Aaah! AAAAAH! I make a desperate kip-up, and where I was just moments before, the bullets turn the floor into a fricking mess! You can see my face. I'm grinning. Oh yes, I'm grinning. Then I start running towards that guy.
Ref: SMG guy squeezes off another burst, and you hear the bullet tearing into the wall behind you, then you're directly before him. He drops the gun and pulls a huge knife…
Cheng: …and hits me in the shoulder! AAAH! My blood colors my 300 dollar shirt red. BASTARD! Chain fists to his face! He falls backward, I leap with a flying guillotine kick and ram him head-first into a chair. Then I look around, casually brushing my nose with my thumb.
Ref: The rest of the mooks are running now, they're headed for the exit!
Cheng: Pah. I allow it. Cowards.

Sprawl Goons and Hardwired: a match made in heaven

Nate Treme published his one-page rpg Tunnel Goons a few days ago. Then, he started the so-called Goon Jam, a fun contest with the goal to write a hack of Tunnel Goons. So far, 16 games have been submitted (one of them being my Kung Fu Goons).

A while ago, I explained Why Hardwired is the real 2020 for me. Yesterday, Paul D. Gallagher, author of the beautiful, beautiful Augmented Reality cyberpunk sourcebook, submitted Sprawl Goons, and it's a match made in heaven.

Tunnel Goons and its hacks are freeform enough to adapt to every play style, and at the same time, they provide enough structure to avoid the wishy-washy handwaving excesses that haunt so many freeform groups.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Kung Fu Goons (a Tunnel Goons hack for Hong Kong movie action)

I made a thing. If you're a fan of HK and Bollywood action flicks AND a roleplayer, you can't go wrong with Kung Fu Goons, my free hack of Nate Treme's Tunnel Goons.

Download it on my brandnew account:

Thursday, August 8, 2019

New GLOG class: Whitehack Brave

A week ago, I presented my new GLOG class, the Whitehack Strong. Now's the time for

The Whitehack Brave 

Starting Equipment: d6 weapon, leather armor
Starting Skill: A Man of Honor, Patience

The Brave can use all weapons.

A: Losing is winning, No!
B: Pack Mule, Helping a Friend
C: Resistance to Curses, All but invisible
D: Divine Grace, Good Enough

Courage trumps both lack of skills and prowess. Brave characters are underdogs and unlikely heroes. 

Losing is winning: Every time a Brave character fails at a roll (attack rolls excluded), he gains a Comeback die (1d6). Add a Comeback Die to any attribute, armor or to use it as damage die when rolling for something else. You can use more than one Comeback Die, but only the highest die counts. If a roll fails despite a Comeback Die, all Comback Dice used for that roll are lost and the roll does not generate a new Comeback Die.

No!: Once per session, the Brave can deny an enemy a successful attack, miracle or fear effect directed at him. 

Pack Mule: The Brave character disregards disadvantage on encumbrance tests.

Helping a friend: The Brave character chooses a party member at the beginning of the session. When he rolls to protect them, the Bravegains one free Comeback Die to his AID.

Resistance to curses: The character rolls with advantage against cursed objects.

All but invisible: At the start of a battle, enemies always choose to attack someone else first -- if there is someone else to attack. This feature can be inverted if the player wishes.

Divine Grace: Once per session, the character‘s god will hear his prayer. GM decides in what way this prayer is heard.

Good enough: Any improvised weapon does 1d6 damage.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Cyberpunk: Why Hardwired is the real 2020 for me

For many years I have been using the Hardwired source book for Cyberpunk 2020 (2013). I also bought the novel by Walter Jon Williams, many years ago. Williams also wrote the sourcebook. Great read, and absolutely recommended.

I like the world of Hardwired much more than the standard background of Cyberpunk 2020, not only because Williams describes a more realistic potential future, but also because he focuses on the cyberpunk essentials instead of shopping for gear. For me personally, the Chromebooks were just an entertaining refreshment; soon they got on my nerves because they turned the game into one huge boring shopping experience.

Hardwired, on the other hand, took a path that I like very much: In the source volume there is a page with generic items and their prices in the game world. The currency is dollar (there is no Eurobuck), and it is subject to extreme fluctuations. The hardwired rules encourage the player to improve the generic data:
The rules below simplify everything to a few "generic" varieties, but players should endavour to supply the chrome these genera lack - what the rules call a "smart medium assault rifle" firing "armor-piercing rounds", the players should endavour to think of as a "Styer AUM-34 with Heckler&Koch sliding breechblock, flash suppressor, folding stock, and underslung argon-xenon laser sight by Sony, firing 7.65mm caseless sabot ammunition".
But this is only one of many advantages Hardwired offers.

Hardwired plays 131 years later than Cyberpunk 2020. Nevertheless, at least to me, the setting seems more coherent and "realistic" than that of 2020:


The drying up of the soil is forcing farmers worldwide to use more and more water in order to wrest food from the land in the first place. But the sinking groundwater level is destroying virtually all traditionally cultivated plants.

Fossil fuels are running out or can no longer be used without massive additional costs because of their impact on the environment. Meanwhile, operators are shifting heavy industry into orbit in order to circumvent environmental regulations. The "orbitals", as the companies located in space are called, are growing more and more, a lucrative business. On Earth, on the other hand, the foundations of life are deteriorating daily. Tensions arise between "dirtside" and "orbitals". These escalate so far that the orbitals begin to attack the earth with their mass drivers (electromagnetic cannons which shoot nickel-iron mixtures into the orbit in order to erect radiation protection "screens" for future generations) by firing 10,000 tons of heavy rock onto them. Known as the Rock War, this attack lasts 12 hours. Now the planet resembles a lunar landscape in places, while other, formerly poor, continents blossom. "The USA is a third world country," notes the sourcebook.

The USA is fragmented into its individual states. The government in DC can only watch powerlessly. Independence turns many former US states into secured estates with fortified border crossings. This in turn calls smugglers on the scene. In self-built armoured hovercrafts ("tanks"), they bring coveted goods to where they are needed.


In contrast to Cyberpunk 2020, where clones were still outrageous (we remember "Land of the Free", a complete adventure in the box that only revolved around the first successful human clone), cloning technology in Hardwired is possible, but very expensive and still flawed.

The Net

In Hardwired it is the "Face" (short for "Interface").

Virtual Reality

… does not exist. The "consensual hallucination" of Gibson, the "matrix" of Shadowrun, the three-dimensional virtual space that stands as an icon for cyberpunk, is completely missing in Hardwired.

It is replaced by something that I find far more interesting in the game: a hacking system. A player who plays a hacker, or "(Console) Cowboys" or "Crystal Jock", as they are called, has differently influential accounts in various networks, has to write programs in an oldschool way (in a "programming language" called "Evolved BASIC", or eBasic), exchange or guess passwords, or obtain or buy them, and do everything that hackers do (or at least what I believe they do as non-hackers).

"Black ICe" doesn't exist - simply because the author Jon Williams doesn't believe in the technical possibilities that a data line could ever have so much juice that it would fry a person's brain. A nice quote:
Nobody dies in the Net. Dying because of what one does in the Net - that's different.
So the really dangerous things on the net are not autonomous programs, but the SysOps that monitor the system you're in. They are the ones who locate intruders and possibly send troops out. That makes playing a hacker exciting again.

I already mentioned above that players with "hacker" characters have to write small pseudo programs in a pseudo programming language called "eBasic". Actual experience at my table shows that this also hits the nerve of players who are interested in this role, but at the same time have no current programming experience. One of my former players spent hours happily writing "programs" that his hacker could use during the game. An example from Hardwired:

(...) a crystaljock wishing to break into a secured computer and steal a file while simultaneously providing himself an alibi could write the following program:
CALL 786-7787 (Korolev)

The crystaljock tells his deck to run this program, then heads out to spend a night on the town, making sure he is seen by a number of people during the next three or four hours. The deck obediently waits two hours, then logs on to the Korolev computer and downloads the desired file while the crystaljock is establishing his alibi.

If you're interested in an rpg that allows you to play quick and dirty cyberpunk, it can't hurt to take a look into my minimald6 hack "Futurepunk":

Monday, July 29, 2019

I don't care about D&D. My heart belongs to its children.

I don't care about D&D.
Or to be exact, D&D as a ruleset? Can't be bothered.
I really can't. I don't care (any more) about the original game, and I don't care (never have) about 3rd, 4th and 5th edition. Too much to do and to choose from, too many moving parts, way too many rules and superheroic feats.
Way. Too. Many.
And sorry but not sorry, descending armor class is bullshit and completely counterintuitive. AAC makes it more bearable, but still… way too many rules.
Way. Too. Many.
I don't care about much of the OSR, either. Retroclones, my ass. I have the original game(s) on my shelves, and even if I didn't have them, I'd go buy pdfs or decently priced originals.
I DO care about a few OSR games, though.
I care about @Chris McDowall 's Into the Odd. Because it's so quick and forgiving-unforgiving at the same time. Because it has so, so, so many awesome hacks people wrote for it. Its big brother, Bastionland, will be a piece of art. I'll be backing this beaut on Kickstarter like crazy.
I care about @Olde House Rules 2d6 system (Blood of Pangea and Barons of Braunstein, specifically). Because it takes me back to a time before fancy dice invaded our hobby. Because it feels positively ancient, but still plays very, very quick.
I care about The GLOG. Because it's the D&D I always dreamed of and always wanted to play (and tried to write, often enough). Because it has all I want in a game: classes galore, races galore, a magic system that blows my mind because it's so freakishly awesome (and you can still use old D&D spells if you want).
So there you have it: I don't care about D&D. I care about three of its children, and that's really all that counts, isn't it?